Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

H-1B visa: Shock, cautious optimism in India after Donald Trump's move


The executive order will stop short of the one- to two-year moratorium on new skilled worker visas that Trump called for during the campaign.

On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order that directed federal agencies to implement a "Buy American, Hire American" strategy. "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words 'Made in the USA, '" Trump said. "And it directs the federal government to fully enforce federal guidelines prioritizing the use of American firms and goods in federal projects".

Thomas Gibson, chief executive of lobby group the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement that "Buy American" provisions "are vital to the health of the domestic steel industry, and have helped create manufacturing jobs and build American infrastructure". Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans.

Tom Gilding, a retired high school teacher who was among the protesters, said Trump's decision not to release his taxes shows a lack of transparency in his administration.

Employers from Walt Disney World to the University of California in San Francisco have laid off their tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. "I applaud President Trump for his efforts to spur job creation, economic growth, and American competitiveness by improving our country's high-skilled immigration programs", said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. The program is popular with the information technology industry, which Trump has accused of "importing low-wage workers on H-1B visas to take jobs from young college-trained Americans".

The order comes as part of the President Trump's campaign to put "America First". The EO calls for the application of existing USA laws to visa recipients and the re-evaluation of the H-1B program.

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"We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first".

About 6% of the visas now go to the Labour Department's top skill level, while eight in 10 workers on the visa are paid less than the median wage for their fields, the White House said in a fact sheet distributed to reporters.

The H-1B work visa programme channels thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. technology industry.

An administration official who briefed reporters in advance named Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp and Mphasis Corp as examples of outsourcing companies that would likely have fewer visas approved as the administration's changes are adopted.

The Order also targets the abusive use of waivers and exceptions that undermine "Buy American" laws meant to promote taxpayer money going to American companies.

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